Peru's Congress Suspends Two Lawmakers In One Decisive Day


Cenaida Uribe, image of Flickr by user Congreso de la República del Perú. CC BY 2.0.

Congressmen Julio Gagó and Cenaida Uribe were suspended on Wednesday June 18, for 120 days by a house vote, after an ethics body ruled they had breached parliamentary code in isolated incidents.

In a double whammy in Lima’s Congress, both were convincingly relieved of their duties until October after the Commission of Parliamentary Ethics published separate reports into alleged malpractices.

Mr Gagó broke a contract law which prevents congressmen from doing business with the state, the report said. An office equipment firm, Copy Depot, of which allegedly he and his brothers are shareholders, sold millions of products to the Peruvian government. Gago failed to declare the conflict of interest and to demonstrate he is not related to the firm.

The website Mis notas lists five reasons [es] why Mr Gagó should be suspended, and on the fourth reason, states:

No importa que los audios sean antiguos
Gagó ha reconocido que la voz de los audios difundidos es suya pero dice que ahí no hay ningún delito, pues fueron grabados antes de que él jure como congresista. Pero lo que de verdad importa no es que le haya dado órdenes a los trabajadores de Copy Depot, sino que el fin de eso era seguir beneficiándose de las licitaciones con el Estado mientras era congresista. Y eso es lo mismo a lo que ha llegado este informe.

It doesn't matter if the audios are not recent.
Gagó has recognized his voice on the audios (where he talked about some future businesses) released is his, but he claims there is no crime there, as they were taped before he was sworn in as congressman. But what really matters isn't he giving orders to Copy Depot personnel, but that the goal was to keep on benefiting from public tenders before he became a congressman. This report has come to that same conclusion.

Despite protests from the Fujimorista bank, the second largest coalition in Congress, of which Gagó is a member, the vote was carried with 72 votes in favour 29 abstentions and 1 vote against.

Ms Uribe allegedly pressured a school to renew a billboard advertising campaign with a marketing firm Punto Visual, according to the school’s director. Ms Uribe is presumed to have had a relationship with a manager of Punto Visual, and further flouted the rules of office by allowing him to travel abroad with her on her diplomatic passport.

Some days before the suspension, the website NoticiasPerú-Hoy, summed up [es] her situation:

Se sabe, que la legisladora Uribe, es acusada de haber realizado gestiones ajenas a su trabajo como funcionaria pública ante el Colegio Alfonso Ugarte, lo cual habría dañado la investidura parlamentaria, y a su vez, habría infringido los principios éticos.

As it's known, the legislator Uribe, is accused of having carried out some tasks unconnected with her job as public servant with (public school) Alfonso Ugarte, which would have damaged the Parliament status and, at the same time, would have violated ethical principles.

Some 60 votes in favour, amid 21 against and 24 abstentions, were enough to suspend Ms Uribe. The Gana Perú congresswoman wasn’t present at the judgement.

The state acted “quickly and with conviction”, said president of the congress, Freddy Otárola. Both lawmakers wouldn’t be paid a salary during their suspension.

Peruvian politicians are periodically linked to corruption. Its two former presidents, Alan García and Alejandro Toledo are being currently investigated by the public prosecutor, while Alberto Fujimori is serving a prison sentence for “crimes against humanity”.

Twitters users heaped scorn on the disgraced politicians. Ms Uribe was named the least popular politician in a poll in the El Comercio newspaper on Monday.

They still given them holidays.. what shame Peru’s Congress gives me.

They pay them thousands of soles, and they take advantage of their positions and spend time defending themselves against accusations.

That's it? Only a reduction in their salaries. What about prison?

Great, these shameless people have to learn.

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